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January 27, 2019

Ryan Cullen

Roberto Gonzalez

Pastor Maldonado

Sebastian Saavedra

Daytona Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we will be joined by our LMP2 winners here at the 57th Rolex 24 at Daytona. We have the co‑drivers of the No.18 Dragon Speed Oreca LMP2 car, Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Saavedra and Ryan Cullen. Gentlemen, congratulations. Sebastian, since you're the closest, why don't you start us off and just take us through how it went and how it feels to be a Rolex 24 at Daytona winner.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: Man, it's absolutely crazy, to be honest. On my side more than anything, a month ago I didn't even have a ride, so of course thank you to Roberto and Dragon Speed for giving me the opportunity to be part of this amazing group. Overall it was a crazy race since the beginning. We were expecting it to be like last year with a few yellows, and that was not the case, and we knew it was going to be more of a survival type of event than most, even though the small number of our class, it didn't take it from being very crazy and losing laps and regaining them and such.
But overall, just very happy and very proud of the whole effort that we did as a team, and it just showed overall at the end of the event.

Q. Roberto, your thoughts on a big win?
ROBERTO GONZALEZ: It feels incredible. Like we were talking before, since we came up with this group of drivers, we were pushing for the win. We were pushing since the Roar. We got our car late from Europe, so we missed one day. We started late. It wasn't looking that great. But the team did a great job. They put us up to speed, we qualified third, and then the race.
The race was crazy, like Sebastian said. I was the one who started the race. It was push from the start, it was fighting from the start. We did a couple of mistakes, but the crew did an amazing job to keep us in the front, keep us in the lead, losing the least amount of laps, and we kept fighting. Obviously a big thanks to them. I think they won the race for us today, and these guys, they drove perfect. Pastor didn't put a foot wrong today, and Sebastian, Ryan and I, we were just hanging on and pushing for the win since the start.
THE MODERATOR: Pastor, let's come back to you. Obviously a lot has been and will be made from the fact that Fernando Alonso is now a Rolex 24 at Daytona winner as a two‑time F1 world champion. Got another F1 race winner, Grand Prix winner right here that's also a Rolex 24 at Daytona champion. Just talk about another big win for you here.
PASTOR MALDONADO: Yeah, it was honestly amazing, the idea to come here, born in our last race in China, in Shanghai, when we were on the podium. We were second, and then we decided. We had the car here, let's race. It's going to be Sebring, so let's do it. And they said, okay, if we do this race, we need to win. And we've been working since, as Roberto said, since that time very hard just to place the team together and to push very hard and to well deserve this victory.
THE MODERATOR: And Ryan, first attempt here at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and it couldn't have really gone better for you. Just your thoughts, please?
RYAN CULLEN: So yeah, just pretty much what everyone else said. I just want to say thank you, guys, for the opportunity, for having faith in me, and it's my first 24, and the guys were really good to me. I made a few mistakes, but I got my head back together, good advice from all of them, and did my stints, and it was really nice to watch us fight back, and everyone drove well. The team worked well, and just so happy to get the result.

Q. Sebastian, you had an accident to bring out that final yellow. Can you talk me through that, and what was going through your mind knowing if the race had restarted it might have been a bit more difficult to pull off this win?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: Yeah, since I jumped into the car, I saw the conditions were pretty detrimental. We knew it was not going to be not only easy, but it was already getting to the stage of should not be running out there.
When I did put it into the wall, everything came into my mind, just thinking, yes, we do have four laps to the second, but this could be it. Every single lap there was a new puddle, every single lap there was something new, a new factor to play in survival, and when that happened, of course the first thing is just thinking that you let down this amazing group of people and the amazing crew that have pushed throughout 48 hours. The thing people don't understand, it's not a 24‑hour race. For our mechanics it's much longer than that.
So it was almost a little bit heart breaking when I saw the engine turn on, and I was able to point it in such an angle that not much damage was done that we were able to come back. I did not expect it to go red, and I think that was our saving moment. But we were ready to go out there and continue doing what we were doing.

Q. So you drove the car back to the pits?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: I did. Yes, it was just the front nose. I will say that kudos to the Oreca team because that car is a tank, I can tell you. It was pasted with glue at the end of the race. Like we've gone through four different noses throughout the event. It was a very harsh event, and that was our last opportunity, and fortunately our team‑‑ we're third, but we should have been a one, two for driving speed, but the way we brought it home, and we were ready whatever was going to be the decision.
But the conditions were worse than we expected.

Q. I wanted to double check something. As far as you know, later in the year, your team will enter the IndyCar business. Does this affect your program, or you'll carry on?
ROBERTO GONZALEZ: Yes, it does affect our‑‑ not our program, but obviously it just makes it a little bit harder on the team because it's the same group of people, and now we're running a P1 car, a P2 car in the WEC, and an IndyCar for six races this year. It's obviously a lot of hard work, but it'll bring a lot of experience, also, so I think it's also going to help us a lot.

Q. Pastor, obviously you've been racing in the WEC all of last year, but it's been a fairly tough season so far. Now do you feel like you've got your first major victory under your belt, it kind of marks your arrival as a proper sports car driver?
PASTOR MALDONADO: Yeah, I need to say that of course it's a special one. It's our first, it's my first Daytona, so I'm really pleased about this. But obviously every new process needs its time, and I think we covered it. We've been working quite tough, quite hard, since the beginning of my experience in the proto cars, and I think now we covered that first experience, you know, and I need to say that the team is very well compact and delivering our best. Normally we should fight for the win from now onwards.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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